Summary of module two partners programme - capacity

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On 12 September the second module for the partners programme 2019/20 cohort was held in Birmingham. The theme for the day was capacity building with a focus on workforce disability.

Paul Deemer, head of diversity and inclusion, NHS Employers welcomed delegates and introduced the joint facilitators for the day, Rachel Higgins from Lincolnshire Community Health Services and Haseeb Ahmad from Leicestershire Partnership Trust.

Session 1 - The WDES experience

Dr Christine Rivers, NHS England and NHS Improvement, shared key findings from the recent submission of the first Workforce Disability Equality Standard Metrics:

  • 89 per cent of trusts now send their staff survey to all their staff
  • 97 per cent have a guaranteed interview scheme
  • 94 per cent have declared that reasonable adjustment is funded from local budget
  • 86 per cent submitted data for metric 3 (capability)
  • 24 per cent provided targeted development opportunities for disabled staff
  • 64 per cent of NHS trust have a disabled staff network 
  • 66 per cent of NHS trust have a board champion for disability equality.

A full report will be published in January 2020.

Session 2 - Tearing down taboos

Diane Lightfoot from the Business Disability Forum talked about tearing down taboos. The Business Disability Forum is a not-for-profit membership organisation, they provide support, training and advice, sharing expertise and facilitating networking opportunities. They help organisations become fully accessible to disabled customers and employees.

Diane stressed the importance of addressing workforce disability in the context of inclusive talent management and skill shortages. She also stated that the language and terms often associated with workforce disability such as ‘disclose’ and ‘declare’ often have negative connotations and this needs to change.

Session 3 - Mental health support services for employers and staff

Angela Han from Able Futures shared details of their free Access to Work Mental Health Support Service. Able Futures is a nationwide specialist partnership set up to provide the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions. They provide confidential support to the people working and living with mental health difficulties, employers and providers of apprenticeships. A toolkit and promotional material for this free service is available to employers via their website.

Session 4 - How can we close the disability employment gap?

Professor Kim Hoque from Warwick Business School talked about the recently published Ahead of the Arc report which highlighted the size of the disability employment gap (30 percentage points) is greater than any other of the protected groups. Only 52 percent of working aged disabled employees are in work compared to 82 per cent of the non-disabled working age population.

He said it was crucial that the disability employment gap needed addressing for a few reasons: 

  • It was a matter of social justice, that all progressive, socially responsible employers should seek to promote this. Most disabilities develop in adulthood once individuals are already in employment, so employers should have something in place to support staff.
  • The shifting focus of UK government policy, from labour market activation - aimed at getting disabled people into employment and off benefits, employers need to play a more active role in increasing the rate of disability employment and creating an inclusive environment to support disabled people.

Session 5 - Understanding and integrating neurodiversity as part of workforce disability policy and practice

Leena Haque from the BBC discussed the work she undertakes as part of the BBC CAPE project and how she uses cognitive design to create accessible user experiences for people with neurodiverse conditions. She highlighted her work as a user experience designer and her use of pictures rather than just conventional words and text to help people understand and communicate in a different way. Leena also shared some useful videos:  

ND Mode: Neurodiversity in the workplace

CAPE Neurodiversity 360 degree VR film (works well with a virtual reality headset and headphones)

Session 6 - Let’s talk neurodiversity in the Workplace: Case Study examples involving the NHS

Pooja Sudera from Lexxic was our final speaker. Lexxic are a team of psychologists who support organisations to develop environments where neurodiversity can flourish. Their services are tailored to add value to organisations’ specific needs and support each individual be at their best. Lexxic was originally set up by Chartered Psychologist Nicola James after managing the challenges of her dyslexia in the corporate sector.

shared three inspiring case studies from the NHS involving staff with a disability and how her organisation had worked with the NHS trust to implement reasonable adjustments. This included how they worked with line managers to maximise the strengths of staff members with dyslexia and agreeing practical solutions which proved to support staff members manage their condition and continue to add value.

To end the day, Kris Halpin from Drake Music shared his story and journey in performing whilst managing his disability. He performed his music which gave an insight into
the development of imaginative technology with the use of gloves which will support people with a disability to writing and playing music. A recording of the song he played using his gloves can be found on You Tube. 

Date of next module

Module three will take place on 12 December 2019 at Woburn House, London.

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